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Aircraft engineering technologies saved a historical relic

Scientists from the Institute of theoretical and applied electrodynamics of the Russian Academy of Sciences (ITAE RAS) have finished the main stage of restoration of the ancient Scythian caftan at the State Historical Museum. The relic was found in the 19-th century by archeologist Karl Radlov. It dates back to more than 2.5 thousand years and is being restored with help of an unusual application of a technology used by United Aircraft Corporation aircraft and the space industry.

One of the best known exhibits of the State Historical Museum, “Katanda caftan”, was found by a Russian ethnographer Vasiliy Radlov in the Great Katanda barrow, Altai, in 1865. The caftan is considered to be the only preserved ceremonial dress related to the Pazyryk culture. The relic is decorated with leather bands, leather squares (about 3000 pcs) and wooden buttons (about 8000 pieces). Foil elements made of gold with silver and copper additives are fragmentarily presented on the wooden ornaments. The caftan has been kept at the Historical Museum from the beginning of 1920-ies and is traditionally presented as one of the key exhibits of the archeologic collection in Russia and abroad. During last ten years scientists were fighting for the Katanda caftan, preservation of which was changed for many reasons, mainly due to the damaging effect of bacteria it contained. The nanocoatings provided the necessary frame preventing material decomposition on the molecular level.

Primarily the nanocoatings were developed for rust protection of electronic circuit boards of United Aircraft Corporation aircraft. The film 1-3 µm thick is intended to replace the waterproof laquer. It’s necessary to use up to a ton of laquer coating to protect radioelectronic parts of modern aircraft against moisture. Later researchers and restorers of the State Historical Museum (team leader Olga Lantratova) together with RAS scientists decided to apply nanocoatings for preservance of ruined objects of historical value, including restoration of archeological leather. “The scientists also designed and built up a special coating equipment”, - said senior scientific researcher of ITAE RAS Karen Mailyan. In spring the most important stage of restoration works was finished – coating the caftan leather fragments with specially selected polymer material with barrier characteristics. Coating the relic leather fragments with the nanomaterial invisible to the human eye went on about 8 years.

This year the State Historical Museum staff will enter the final stage of restoration. They will create a 3d-model of the caftan with a special computer program, combine the parts of restored leather, build a special showcase with microclimate for the exposition. “Our aim is to renew and to prepare the Katanda caftan for exhibiting. Even today we work with best chemists and producers of materials to finish the restoration”, - specified Deputy Director for foundation activities of the State Historical Museum Marina Chistyakova.

Connecting the caftan parts and preparations for exhibiting will take some more time.

Aircraft engineering innovations are used in many related industries – space, shipbuilding, housebuilding and transport, but they have never been applied in the restoration procedures. I hope new technologies will lengthen the caftan life for ages”, - specified Director of UAC Technical Research Center Vladimir Kargopoltsev.

Similar ITAE RAS coatings are spread on the mirror of NPO Lavochkin Spektr-UF space-based telescope, in this case polymer is used for electrical insulation.
Tags: archaeology, aviation
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